West Elk Volcano
In the fall of 2008 the Research in Volcanology and Petrology class decided to come back to Gunnison two weeks before the semester started for intensive field work. The group had decided to study the petrology and geochemistry of West Elk Volcano - the eroded remnant of a large 30 m.a. old stratovolcano just northwest of Gunnisons. The key exposures were in the center of the West Elk Wilderness Area. With the help of alumni donations we were able to hire horses to set up a base camp and then spend six days of intensive field work mapping and sampling lava flows exposed on the southern and western slope of West Elk Peak.
West Elk Peak
Above: The southern slopes of West Elk Peak (elev. 13035'). West Elk Peak is dominantly volcaniclatic conglomerate with rare lava flows - there are five on the steep unvegetated slope on the right that show up as dark sub-horizontal lines. Our base camp was at the base of that slope. We walked in and had the pack train bring in and take out our supplies and samples.
Below: Our pack train
Sampling Lava Flows
Above: Andrew Heger and Chris Nash sampling a lava flow on the southern slopes of West Elk Peak.
Below: Andrew Heger, Sarah Able and JD Rumbaugh sampling a sequence of four stacked flows on the southwest slopes of West Elk Peak.
Below: Sarah Able on a lava flow with volcaniclasitc conglomerate in the background.
Above: Base camp along West Elk Creek
Below: Andrew, JD, Allen's chair, Sarah, and Chris around the camp fire.